Monday, August 18, 2014

A Cool Drink For A Hot August Day, Horchata Goes Indian.

   One of the things I developed a taste for after living in Los Angeles for so long was a nice cooling glass of horchata. This ancient drink made of water, ground nuts, sugar, rice, spices, seeds and what have you stretches throughout the Spanish speaking world. Each country has their own version of this refreshing milky drink, and along with a nice glass of Lychee boba, is one of the two beverages that I can't get here in Sonoma. Okay, I take that back, I can get a very good horchata here given that Sonoma was the capital of Mexico's province of Alta California. As for the boba I'm still working on that one.

    The reason I've been fantasizing about horchata all goes back to the case of food poisoning I got last month. I'm pretty much recovered, except for my stomach. I'm still eating a very simple diet which has taken me vegan for the last month. It's pretty easy for me to eat a vegetarian diet as I was a vegetarian for years starting back when I was a teenager. In fact as my relatives reminded me at the family wedding I attended back in July, back in the day, I was the first vegetarian any of them had ever seen. When I first started cooking Indian food 25 years ago it was vegetarian Indian food only. My doctor advised me to introduce new foods slowly, simple things,vegetables and rice  etc.  Which brings me to horchata. A simple drink made of water, soaked ground rice, and spices. Just what the doctor ordered!
   I could have gone over to El Molino Central and just bought some but then I would have been tempted by all the delicious stuff they serve and would probably do something stupid to my stomach that I would regret. I decided to make my own. But rather than leave well enough alone, I wondered if there was an Indian version of horchata our there. Since the spice profiles in Hispanic food and Indian food have a lot of overlap I figured there must be. Sure enough, there was. The most common recipe out there was the one I found on My Recipes and a lot of other sites. It seemed everybody and their uncle had made this Indian flavored horchata, so why not add me to the list?

Horchata With Indian Spices

Here's what You Need:
1 cup of basmati rice
3 and 1/2 cups of water
1 cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom pods cracked open
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
1/3 cup of sugar

Here"s What To Do:
Scoop 1 cup of clean basmati rice into a food processor.

Grind it up into small bits.

This takes a while.

Pour it into a bowl along with 3 1/2 cups of water and the cinnamon stick and cardamom seeds.

Add in the vanilla and sugar.

Stir everything around until it's well mixed.

Pour it into a container that can be covered.

Pop the top on and stick it into the fridge overnight.
The next day, pour the mixture into a blender. You can do this in two batches.

Grind everything up.
While the mixture is getting ground to bits, place cheese cloth over a bowl and get ready to strain your horchata.

Pour the liquid through the cheese cloth into the bowl.

Squeeze the liquid through the cloth.

Even though the recipe says to filter it though 3 layers of damp cheesecIoth, I  actually filtered mine 3 times to insure a nice smooth milky texture.

Third times the charm!
Finally pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.

Then pour the strained horchata into a pitcher.


Pour the chilled horchata over a glass of ice.

And enjoy!

   There you have it, a perfectly refreshing drink for a hot August day unpacking moving boxes. Shortly after I made this horchata, I ran across a different recipe for it by Manjula which I can't wait to try. It's weird breaking in my new kitchen with such a simple recipe, but that's the breaks in  food poisoning land. Every day I add something new, yesterday it was apples and avocados. Coming up next dal, easy to make easy on the stomach. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Desert Island Living. It's Baby Steps To Food.


I haven't been cooking for the last couple of weeks. I happened to get a very bad case of food poisoning that sent me to the hospital and even now that I have a clean bill of health, I'm taking my doctors advice and eating simply and cleanly. He advised me to introduce new foods slowly and after a couple of weeks living on coconut water, bananas, oatmeal, and simple baked potatoes, I feel as if I have been living the last few weeks on a desert island.
Also, in the middle of all these intestinal fun and games, we moved into the new house we bought. I now have the amazing kitchen we planned so carefully, except I'm not cooking anything in it!! I also am in a sea of boxes, and have no idea where most of my equipment is, as every box has either GLASS!! or CLAY!! scrawled all over it. As I muddle around my mess of cardboard, I have managed to locate several simple things that I've managed to transport from my borrowed kitchen to the new house. In fact I found enough things to make myself a simple treat. Horchata, and not just regular horchata which is delicious enough, but horchata with Indian spices. It has all the things that a recovering stomach could desire, water, rice, spices.
So a few minutes ago, I started horchata prep. It'll be done tomorrow and I'll be breaking out of my coconut, banana diet. I feel as though I've just been rescued.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Where I've Been: Bug Fix.

   Last Thursday night my doctor sent me to the emergency room. I was having a LOT of discomfort and running a fever. The fact that I felt so rotten at the time was what actually moved me to call the doctor instead of just blowing it off as an upset stomach. I'm glad I did. It seems that I got food poisoned somewhere along the line last week while my new kitchen was being installed. I had one week where instead of cooking simply for us as I usually do, we ate out every day. After waiting 6 days flat on my back for the hospital to turn up the exact bug that was bugging me, last evening my doctor told me they'd nailed it. I had Campylobacter, and I'd be hearing from the Health Department. The doctor changed the drug they'd been treating me with as that tricky bug seemed to be resistant to it and put me on something more likely to do the job.

   Campy, (hey he's been crashing in my gut for the last week I can be familiar) seems to be most frequently caused by undercooked or contaminated chicken. Irony of ironies, I have eaten no chicken. It can also be caused by cutting raw chicken and then cutting something else with the same kitchen tools or on the same surface. Even washing chicken in a kitchen and splashing the water on something else aka my salad, can make one sick.I wash things around my house like a rabid raccoon. I've always got my hands under the faucet, and this whole business of washing chicken leads me to think more about this whole air-chilled chicken thing and how important that can be in preventing disease. Also, keeping ones' kitchen clean. So I guess there will be some follow up checks at the places I ate last week.
   Meanwhile, My kitchen's in, but I'm out of it. Upstairs in bed, the new antibiotic tossing down the nail strips calling a halt to the high speed joy ride Campy's been having in my gut for the last week. Hoping to be back at work in my new kitchen very soon. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Best Of Summer. Sweet Corn and Chipotle Chili Ice Cream with Walnut Chili Brittle. Thanks OXO!

    For the last several months I haven't been doing a whole lot of cooking. I've been operating out of a  borrowed kitchen while our new house is being remodeled. I've been cooking out of the boxes I've carried from our old house to our temporary rental and as a result of my careful planning, I can't find most of the stuff I brought with me. That's even if I did bring it with me because I realize some stuff may be in storage. My answer to cooking out of my many mystery boxes has led me to only make the simplest dishes. So, when an opportunity came along to try out some ice cream tools from OXO of course I said yes!  What's simpler than ice cream? Not much it turns out, provided one can find their ice cream machine. That was a little trickier in my case.
   After a rummage through a nest of boxes, in the temporary garage, I located the machine, but my metal ice cream storage containers were nowhere to be found. No problem as it turned out, since OXO sent along a terrific container that worked beautifully and took up very little space in the freezer. After that, my only challenge was to come up with a flavor of ice cream that made the best of a Sonoma summer.
   I wandered through the Farmers Market but nothing particularly caught my eye until I saw the Sweet Summer Corn. Having raised parrots, I was familiar with the charms of sweet corn and of Alex the Genius parrots' love for it.

   Sweet corn, soft corn, ice cream. It seemed like a natural connection. Yeah, right. In LA I remember the elotes vendors who'd push their carts around the neighborhood and would be parked outside of the school yards every afternoon, mobbed by kids enjoying the sweet corn on a stick loaded with contijo cheese, mayo and spices. Then there were the Tamal Dulce with sugar and raisins at Tamales Lilianas in East LA. This place is so good they have two locations!

Anyway, before I make myself any hungrier fantasizing about tamales that are 500+ miles away from me.... the logic went like this, if I can eat sweet corn tamales, why not sweet corn ice cream?

Sweet Corn and Chipotle Chili Ice Cream With Walnut Chipotle Brittle


Here's What You Need:
2 ears of sweet white corn
2 cups of cream
2 cups of milk
3/4 cup of sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1/8 to 1/4 tsp of ground chipotle chili
2 cups walnut halves
1/4 cup of sugar
3 Tbs unsalted butter
chipotle chili to taste
a pinch of Kosher salt

Here's What To Do:
Shuck, wash and remove the kernels from two ears of corn.

Set them aside.
Pour 2 cups of cream into a large pot.

Add in 2 tsp of good quality vanilla. I use Gaya Mexican Vanilla but any good brand will do.

Add in 3/4 cup of sugar.

Bring the cream, sugar, and vanilla to a low simmer.
When the mixture starts to simmer, add in the kernels of corn.
Let the corn simmer for about 3 or 4 minutes until it's slightly tender.
Take the mixture off the fire and add in 2 cups of milk.

Add in the ground chipotle chili.

About The Chili:
Add it slowly and in small amounts. Let it sit for a bit to let the heat develop before you add more as you want to get the heat to a desirable level.This is a total matter of taste. 

Before putting the mixture into your ice cream machine let it chill in the fridge for several hours or even overnight as I did so the flavors can mellow. Before you put the ice cream in the machine check the flavor again for heat. If it's okay with your taste buds, you're good to go.

Pour the ice cream into your machine.

 When it's churned and read scoop it out...

...and into a freezer-safe container.

Since I usually use metal containers I was a bit suspicious as to whether or not the OXO freezer box would deliver a tight enough seal. I should have known better....

OXO, great as usual. Also, it fit perfectly into the freezer of the fridge I'm using.

Once the ice cream goes into the fridge to set up for a bit, make the Walnut Chipotle Brittle.
Patsy was an eager audience.

Add 3 Tbs of butter to a skillet.
As it melts add in add 1/4 cup of sugar.

Stir it all together.

Let it all melt together.
When the caramel has thickened add the nuts to the mixture...

...and 1/4 tsp of Kashmiri chili.

Stir it all together. If it starts to thicken up too much just put it back on the heat to soften it.
Pour it onto a heatproof plate or silicone mat,  (which is what I would have used had I been able to find mine. I substituted a paper plate.)

Sprinkle the whole with a bit of sea salt and  your are done. Let it harden a cool for a bit.
When you are ready to serve it up, chop your nut brittle.

I used the nifty chopper I got from OXO.

One little push, and bingo. It's done.

Scoop the Sweet Corn Ice Cream into a bowl and scatter some of the chopped Walnut Brittle on top.

   There it is, the best of summer's corn in a dessert bowl. Sweet Corn Ice Cream. Was it good? The cream was suffused with the taste of the corn, the crunch of the nut brittle in the mix was perfect and at the end there was a nice heat to the whole thing. It was like eating cracker jack ice cream. Enough said. Definitely a keeper.

   Thanks to OXO for giving me such perfect tools to work with. I always love their stuff and buy it for my kitchen, but right here, right now, working out of temporary quarters, I couldn't have done this without them. Plus, I always love anyone who gives me an excuse to make ice cream.
 Coming up next, a Summer drink with Indian  flavors. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rhubarb Cherry Chutney, Because The Only Thing Better Than Free, Is A Sale!

    I never could resist a sale. Ever. Growing up in a very frugal blue collar family where money was tight, I learned to like a lot of stuff because it was cheap or on sale. Most of this stuff was fresh vegetables and fruit. No candies or sweet treats at our house, no sugary drinks, as they were considered an expensive indulgence.

   "Here,have an apple, there's a tree in the back yard" my mother would say.

   Thanks to her, I never developed a taste for soda, or a lot of the stuff my friends had in their lunchboxes in elementary school. I didn't get the Twinkies, or the Hostess SnoBalls. It's not that I didn't try to get that stuff. I attempted the usual trading at lunch but not many people (try no one) was interested in swapping me a Twinkie for a Gravenstein apple. I quickly became known around the school yard as Applecore Gori since remembering my moms no waste rule I ate the entire apple. Like a goat.

   Like a small goat I also learned to forage around the neighborhood. I learned to pick and eat sour grass, parts of certain flowers had centers that contained a sweet nectar. There were edible berries in Golden Gate Park around the corner, and it seemed like nearly everyone's yard, even in the midst of a neighborhood of drifting sand dunes, had some tree that produced some sort of fruit. Later, when I moved to Los Angeles, I loved having lemons and avocados in the backyard, strawberry guava trees and loquats which a lot of people ignored but which make excellent chutney. Now, here in Sonoma all sorts of edible plants abound.  I've planted fruit trees at our new house, and I also do my share of gleaning. But even here in Sonoma, I can't always find everything I want growing by the side of the road. That's where the sale gene kicks in. When they throw up those numbers and percentage marks, that's when I come running.
   Last week there was a sale at our local Whole Foods. They were offering beautiful organic cherries for 1.99 a pound. I was so there. At the same time I saw some great local rhubarb for cheap so I snapped that up too. So there I was, rhubarb and cherries in hand, what to do, what to do?

    Since I am still in a temporary kitchen, I have very few of my usual cooking tools because of my "Fragile!" "Glass!" brilliant idea so it seemed that baking anything was out of the question. I did have a large skillet and measuring spoons, and that seemed to be all I needed to make a quick and tasty chutney. There are a lot of ways to make chutney. This is a very simple one and you can adjust the seasoning to whatever you'd like heat-wise. Just taste and adjust as you go. It's that easy.

Cherry Rhubarb Chutney

Here's What You Need:
1 lb of rhubarb
1 lb of fresh Bing cherries
1/4 cup of water
3/4 cup of sugar
6 pods green cardamom, cracked seeds removed
6 cloves
2 pinches of Kashmiri chili
2 large cinnamon sticks
2 pinches of ground cinnamon
the juice of 1/2 lemon

Here's What To Do:
Wash the cherries and rhubarb
Cut the tough ends and the little green leaves off of the stallks if there are any.

Chop the rhubarb into 1/2 inch pieces.

Put the cut rhubarb into a large bowl.
Pit the cherries.

Cut the pitted cherries into halves.

Mix the cherry halves with the rhubarb pieces.

Mix the water and sugar together in a skillet. Turn the heat up to medium and mix the water and sugar together until they're well blended.
Add in the rhubarb and cherries.

Toss in the cinnamon sticks, the cinnamon, the pinches of kashmiri chili, the cardamom seeds, and the cloves.

Bring the water to a boil, and when it does boil, turn the heat down to simmer. Cook the rhubarb and cherries down for about 35 minutes.

When the rhubarb and cherries have softened and cooked down add in the lemon juice.

Let the chutney cool down. Check the heat factor. If you'd like to add more chili do so but in very small amounts until you have the chutney as hot as you'd like it. Chili added to foods takes a while to sink in and when you add heat, let it sit for 15 minutes or so and check again before you add more.
Serve the chutney warm or at room temperature, but if you're not serving it right away, refrigerate it.

   This chutney can be used on a sandwich, with chicken or pork, even as a topping for ice cream or yogurt. Best of all it can be made with minimum equipment and in very little time. Coming up next, a cool summer ice cream and some cool equipment from OXO. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


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